Auckland to Hamilton
Plan a road trip across New Zealand's North Island
Active volcanoes, island sanctuaries and historical gems top the list when visiting New Zealand's North Island – but that’s just the beginning. Set off on a road trip to remember with our guide to the ultimate New Zealand North Island adventure.
Get the right car rental for your journey
First off, you’re going to need a set of wheels to discover everything the North Island has to offer. Check out our great car hire deals and pick up your rental at the airport or in the city before heading off on your adventure. Whether you’re after a compact and comfortable sedan or a spacious 4WD, you’ll find the perfect car for your journey in our vehicle range.
Pick up your car rental in Auckland and start your North Island exploration at the city’s cultural hubs. Be sure to check out the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery before stopping by the iconic Sky Tower for panoramic views, dining and entertainment.
Coromandel Peninsula 190 km
Hit the road and head for the Coromandel Peninsula. It’s less than three hours from the city but feels like a world away with its spectacular white-sand beaches and atmospheric rainforest. See the most photographed beach in New Zealand at Cathedral Cove and dig your own spa pool at Hot Water Beach. Follow your instincts as you explore the Coromandel’s laidback community and seek out unique art pieces from the many craftspeople that call this place home.
Tauranga & the Bay of Plenty 166 km
Located along the Pacific Coast Highway, it’s easy to see why The Bay of Plenty is one of New Zealand’s most popular summer holiday spots. Check out the buzzing waterfront of Tauranga, then explore natural gems like McLaren Falls and the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. See out the day at the seaside resort of Mount Maunganui and enjoy some good old fashioned Kiwi fish and chips as the sun goes down.
Hobbiton 59 km
Make your way to Matamata to discover Middle-earth on a Hobbiton movie set guided tour. From Bag End to the Green Dragon Inn, everything is exactly as it was in the movies – and you can even enjoy a feast fit for a dwarf on one of the evening tours.
Rotorua 73 km
Next on your itinerary is the other-worldly landscape of Rotorua, complete with volcanic geysers, steaming craters, lakes and mud pools at every turn. Take a dip in the warm mineral pools of the Polynesian Spa, then finish the day with a unique New Zealand dining experience at the spectacular Stratosfare Restaurant.
Napier 219 km
Napier is a unique city known for its art deco landmarks and Maori decoration. Stroll along the tree-lined waterfront and visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand before seeing the symbolic Pania of the Reef statue that depicts a Maori maiden. The wider region of Hawkes Bay is the perfect place to take your time exploring local wineries and artisan food producers – just be sure to bring your picnic basket along because you’re going to want to fill it.
Wellington 322 km
Overflowing with museums, galleries, restaurants, bars and nature reserves, there’s a reason Wellington is known as “the world’s coolest little capital”. Get your bearings with the view from the peak of Mount Victoria, then relax with a drink or ice cream on the stunning waterfront. Make sure to set aside time to visit Te Papa museum for a fascinating insight into New Zealand and Pacific history. Looking to make the most of Wellington’s revered restaurant culture? Book a Zest Food Tour and taste your way around the best of the city.
Taupo 371 km
With the mighty Mount Ruapehu framing the crystal-clear waters of Lake Taupo, it’s hard to imagine a region with more impressive landscapes. Ski down a volcano before visiting the thundering Huka Falls and kayaking to the Mine Bay Maori rock carvings. Fish for your dinner at Huka Prawn Park, then relax in one of the many geothermal pools found all over the region – you’ve earned it.
Waitomo 149 km
Change the pace from exploring lofty landscapes and head underground to the breathtaking Waitomo Glowworm Caves. With echoing waterfalls, soaring subterranean caverns and a starry ceiling of glow worms, this is a unique experience that you’re sure to remember.
Hamilton 74.5 km
Finish up your North Island adventure in Hamilton, New Zealand’s largest inland city and a great base for exploring the wider area. Catch a wave at Raglan’s surf coast or keep the relaxation going at Te Aroha Mineral Pools. Alternatively, just enjoy the markets, galleries and cafés of Hamilton and bask in your end of holiday glow as you stroll the banks of the Waikato River.
Click here to download this road trip in a printable PDF format.